Though it is obvious that LGBT+ representation has been on the rise across different types of media in the last couple of years, there’s still a long way to go. Traditionally the focus has been put on gay men, leaving any other identity outside of this diversification of content. There is also the issue of under-representation (little to no lesbian and trans inclusivity in mainstream stories) and misrepresentation (ie. bisexual people being presented as promiscuous). Not to mention the absolute lack of representation of other identities.
However, despite all of this, there are still some books that have taken on the mission of portraying these characters. Since my personal soft-spot is for bi rep, here is a (definitely not extensive) list of bisexual, or in some cases pansexual, characters who, in my opinion, deserve some love. Although I don’t claim these to be perfect representation by any means, they are the ones that have had an impact on me and have stayed close to my heart for years. Also, it’s worth mentioning that I don’t consider sexuality to be a spoiler, but some of the characters on the list don’t necessarily label themselves until later on in the book/series they’re in.
*Note that not all these characters have necessarily labelled themselves as bi or pan, but all have been coded as such*
This is not my particular area of expertise, but like any other 90s/00s kids, I was brought up on Percy Jackson, and by extension have developed a deep love for anything Rick Riordan has written. So here’s two of his bi/pan characters:
from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
I have just been kissed by a dude. How do I feel about that?
The rest of my brain answered: I have just been kissed by Alex Fierro. I am absolutely great with that.-The Ship of the Dead, Rick Riordan
from The Trials of Apollo
We gods are not hung up about such things. I myself have had… let’s see, thirty-three mortal girlfriends and eleven mortal boyfriends? I’ve lost count.-The Hidden Oracle, Rick Riordan
Here is where the list gets pretty long. I have found that young adult fiction is probably the sub-section of literature that in the last years has expanded more in terms of representation.
Let’s start with all of Cassandra Clare’s bisexual characters, who admittedly have had the most impact on me since I read about (most of) them in my teenage years.
from The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, The Dark Artifices, The Last Hours, and The Eldest Curses
“I think of myself as a freewheeling bisexual.”-City of Lost Souls, Cassandra Clare
from The Dark Artifices and The Eldest Curses
“It’s not a secret that I like girls as well as boys.”-The Red Scrolls of Magic, Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu
from The Dark Artifices
“I do,” he said quizzically. “Like girls.”
“Oh,” she said. “You’re bisexual?”
“Last time I checked, that’s what you call it.”-Lady Midnight, Cassandra Clare
from The Dark Artifices
“You know what I want,” Kieran said. “I was the one to say it first. I love and desire you both.”-Queen of Air and Darkness, Cassandra Clare
from The Dark Artifices and The Wicked Powers (to be released)
Kit’s list of grievances against the Shadowhunters had now gotten long enough that he’d started writing it down. Stupid hot people, he’d written, won’t let me go home and get my stuff.-Lord of Shadows, Cassandra Clare
from The Last Hours
“The green carnation symbolizes a love of art and artifice […] It also celebrates loving anyone you choose, whether that is a man or a woman.”-Chain of Gold, Cassandra Clare
I know Cassandra Clare books are not for everyone, and the sheer amount of them is daunting to anyone wanting to jump into the world of Shadowhunters. So, here are some other YA books with great bisexual rep.
from Six of Crows
“If only you could talk to girls in equations.”
[…] “Just girls?”
[…] “No. Not just girls.”-Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo
from Six of Crows
“[Fjerdan girls] don’t engage in flirtations with every single man they meet.”
“I flirt with the women too.”-Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo
from The Raven Cycle and The Dreamer Trilogy
He knew that Ronan was not a thing to be experimented with. He knew his mouth still felt warm.-The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater
Henry “Monty” Montague
from Montague Siblings
“I’m also rather attracted to all the men I kiss. And the ladies as well.”-The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Mackenzi Lee
from The Shadow Game
Levi had a long romantic history of scattered affairs—a few girls and many boys—that had become the subject of teasing from his friends.-Ace of Shades, Amanda Foody
Finally, this will be short and to the point for two reasons: 1) I’ve just recently started being interested in adult fiction and 2) I find it hard to find stories with LGBT+ representation that I’m interested in.
from Red, White & Royal Blue
“So, I’ve realized I’m not straight. I’m actually bisexual.”-Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston
from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
“I’m bisexual. Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box.”-The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
from Take a Hint, Dani Brown
“Got it.”-Take a Hint, Dani Brown, Talia Hibbert
This is just a short recollection of bisexual characters from some of my favourite full-length novels. If you are interested in it, I can definitely put together a similar list focused on graphic novels and comics. Or, I could also make a more extensive list of all bisexual characters I’ve encountered in my time as a reader, whatever my opinion of the books as a whole might be.
Do you perhaps recognise any of your favourite characters in this list? What is the type of representation that you passionately care about?